Thursday, January 21, 2016

Beyond your basic Biography Report

Each year, when February rolls around I am in high demand as teachers want me to lead research on famous Presidents & African Americans. Usually I leave the report part up to the teacher and honestly I don’t really know what they do, but it’s usually some sort of paper-pencil activity. Recently I was convicted in a technology workshop when the presenter called to our attention a common core standard which begins in second grade:

With guidance and support from adults, use a variety of digital tools to produce and publish writing, including in collaboration with peers.

I knew my school was not up to par in using digital tools to produce and publish writing and I realized that when I leave the project part up to the teacher it sometimes isn’t executed well. So this year, I approached my teachers about using our new laptop carts to create biography projects. I presented some options to each grade level & we ended up with 1st grade typing their reports into Word, 2nd grade creating a biography blog, and 3rd grade using Voki to create avatars of their project (this ended up also covering a listening & speaking standard). I am so proud of our students & teachers for stepping outside of their comfort zone & embracing technology to create their reports!

I would love for you to check out the second grader’s blog (it is still a work in progress) http://ges2ndgraders.blogspot.com/

Perhaps the most exciting part was creating the Voki avatars with third grade. The kids absolutely loved it! I used this tutorial from A Turn to Learn to help me but honestly found that Voki is really easy to use. I did pay ~$30 for a year’s subscription and have been using it to create digital book talks as well. Here is an example of a third graders report.

Of course we did run into a few snags along the way and I had one grade level who rejected my proposal for a digital report; however, all in all I was pleased with the end results and I have a lot of ideas on how to make things even better next year!


What digital tools have you used for reports?

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H.West
MNPS Librarian
@kidsinthestacks

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